Metacam For Dogs: Side Effects, Dosage & Alternatives

Metacam is a brand name for meloxicam. It is one of the most popular currently prescribed medications to date. Vets prescribe Metacam for dogs with discomfort and swelling related to joint conditions, muscle disorders, or recovering from surgeryChronic discomfort doesn't only damage your dog's body. It takes a toll on their mental health as well. Being active, athletic animals, canines get the blues when they can't run around like they are accustomed to doing.
Considering all that our dogs do to bring joy into our lives, you want to do whatever you can to help them in these difficult circumstances. But how can you be sure if Metacam is the right treatment for your dog's condition? If it isn't, what other options are out there? We put together this simple guide to help you determine the best course of action for you and your dog. Let's dive right in with the basics of Metacam.

What is Metacam For Dogs?

Metacam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It works by lowering the level of hormones in the body that cause discomfort and inflammation. Meloxicam (Metacam) is available in an oral suspension, injection, or chewable tablets.
Metacam is palliative, not curative. Depending on the severity of each case, your dog may need Metacam for just a few weeks, or they may need to take it for the rest of their life.

Metacam for Humans and Other Pets

Meloxicam is also available for humans under the brand name Mobic. However, Mobic and Metacam are not interchangeable. You should never give a dog medication intended for humans (or vice versa). The implementation of Metacam for other pets is subject to some debate. You should consult with a veterinarian before administering Metacam to a cat or other animal.
Metacam is FDA approved for consumption in all dog breeds. That being said, Metacam pills may be too strong for dogs who weigh less than 5 pounds. In cases with small dogs, you should try Metacam oral suspension, the liquid form. With that established, let's discuss proper dosing.

Dosage of Metacam For Dogs

When it comes to Metacam, dog owners should always follow the veterinarian's instructions. Accidental overdosing is a possibility. As a result, it could lead to vomiting, dizziness, fainting, respiratory issues, or cardiac arrest.
The typical dosage for Metacam is 0.09-0.1 mg per pound of bodyweight on the first day. As long as your dog shows no allergic reaction or adverse effects from this first dose, they can proceed to a daily maintenance dose of 0.045-0.05 mg per pound of body weight.
If you forget to give your dog one of their Metacam doses, don't panic. Administer the correct dose as soon as you remember. However, if it's almost time for their next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with the established schedule. Do not give your dog two doses of Metacam at once.
In its pill form, meloxicam typically contains 1-2.5 mg per tablet. You can give the chewable tablets to your dog with or without food, but they should always have plenty of water on hand to help them swallow their pill. The Metacam oral suspension comes with a measuring syringe for accurate dosing. Mix the recommended dose directly into your dog's food.
Many pet owners find it easier to give their dogs the Metacam oral suspension instead of the tablets. Your dog won't even know they're getting medicine when you mix it in with their food. That being said, you should always consume the form of Metacam that your veterinarian prescribes.
brown dog with long tongue

Side Effects of Metacam For Dogs

The most common side effects of Metacam for dogs involve digestive issues. The most extreme (and rare) cases may lead to:





The vet may require annual blood tests for your dog going forward to monitor the effects of Metacam on their internal organs.

You should contact your veterinarian immediately if you observe any of the following side effects:
  • Vomiting
  • Queasiness
  • Increased urination
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Poor coordination/motor skills
  • Skin rash



All medications carry some risk of an allergic reaction. In extreme cases, an allergic response could cause anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. Keep a close eye on your dog, especially during their first week of taking Metacam, and watch for these signs:
  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Swelling around the face
  • Constant scratching
  • Erratic shaking of their head
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing


Talk to the vet immediately if your dog shows any behavioral changes or physical symptoms above. As a result, a vet may try some laboratory tests to determine whether your dog is allergic to Metacam and assess other treatment options for them.
Related: Benadryl For Dogs: Side Effects, Dosage & Alternatives

Pre-Existing Conditions

Certain conditions may increase your dog's risk of having a bad reaction to Metacam. Be sure that your veterinarian has a record of your dog's medical history before determining the best treatment options. Refrain from administering Metacam to your pet in the following cases:
  • Pregnant or lactating dogs
  • Dogs with hepatic (liver) disease
  • Renal (kidney) disease
  • Heart conditions
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Puppies under 6 months of age



Cost of Metacam

Like the vast majority of prescription medications for both pets and humans, Metacam does not come cheap. The typical price for Metacam is $34.99 for a 10 mL bottle, $124.99 for a 100 mL bottle, or $184.99 for a 180 mL bottle. Other brands of meloxicam, like Meloxidyl, are comparably priced.

Interaction With Other Drugs

Be cautious about giving your dog Metacam along with other medications. Negative drug interactions may occur. Also, be sure to tell the vet what your dog's medications are before trying Metacam.
Never mix Metacam with other NSAID medications or corticosteroids (like prednisone or prednisolone). Aside from other medications, Metacam may have adverse reactions with the following:
  • Antibiotics (gentamicin, amikacin)
  • Anesthetics (isoflurane, sevoflurane)
  • Anticoagulants ( heparin, warfarin)
  • Diuretics (furosemide)
  • Antifungals (fluconazole)
  • Immunosuppressants (methotrexate, cyclosporine)



Ingredients In Metacam

The active ingredient in Metacam is meloxicam. Actually, its complete chemical name is 4-Hydroxy-2-methyl-N-(5-methyl-2-thiazolyl)-2H-1,2-benzothiazine-3-carboxamide-1, 1-dioxide. But, please don't wear yourself out trying to say all that.
The inactive ingredients in Metacam vary depending on the administration method. Metacam oral suspension contains equal parts meloxicam and sodium benzoate. The sodium benzoate serves as a preservative.
As a result, each Meloxicam injection contains 5.0 mg per milliliter of meloxicam, along with the following:
  • 15% alcohol: a nontoxic solvent
  • 10% glycofurol: a nontoxic solvent
  • 5% poloxamer 188 (P188): to repair cells at the injection site
  • 0.6% sodium chloride: to replenish water and electrolytes
  • 0.5% glycine: contributes to cell growth and health
  • 0.3% meglumine: to protect from septic shock



The rest is water, with sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid added to adjust the pH level.
a dog getting a checkup at the vets

Metacam Alternatives

Metacam is safe for dogs and effective in the vast majority of cases. Concerned that your dog has a negative reaction to Metacam? Talk to your veterinarian about an alternative prescription for them.
To help, onsider supplementing your dog's treatment with natural remedies. These are not intended to replace the function of Metacam. However, they serve a similar purpose so that they can support the function of Metacam. If the vet decides they no longer need the medication, you may also implement these natural remedies to help ween your dog off Metacam.
As always, please speak with a licensed veterinarian before giving your dog any treatments. Let's say your dog already takes Metacam. Consult with the prescribing veterinarian before taking your dog off the medication.


Glucosamine is an amino sugar commonly taken as a dietary supplement. It is primarily used in the treatment of joint conditions, much like Metacam. Glucosamine has the added benefit of supporting healthy digestive function.

Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements are extremely popular for both humans and their pets. Loaded with all natural vitamins and minerals like Omega 3, fish oil is a dense additive with tons of benefits to the health of your dog. These fatty acids may reduce the body's production of cytokines. Cytokines are molecules that contribute to inflammation.
Fish oil is especially useful for dogs. This is because it cannot metabolize other oils commonly implemented in health supplements. Such oils include flaxseed and linseed oil. Try mixing some fish oil in with your dog's food for easy consumption.


The yucca plant holds a prominent position in traditional Mexican folk medicine. It contains compounds called saponins. These may suppress the production of intestinal protozoa that contribute to swollen and aching joints. However, some dogs may not enjoy eating yucca, and in some cases, it may lead to an upset stomach.


Second to last, Arnica (Wolf's Bane) is an herb among the sunflower family. Arnica extract can be made into pills, gel capsules, and oil supplements to control bruising, swelling, and discomfort. Arnica is safe in homeopathic dilutions, but large concentrations of arnica are toxic to dogs.


Finally, we've got CBD (cannabidiol), which is a natural compound in hemp plants. It is a natural remedy for aches and physical discomfort. CBD has positive effects on the mind, helping to soothe distress and improve mood.
CBD is an excellent complement to Metacam, helping your dog stay calm throughout the treatment process. More so, this is especially helpful when Metacam is prescribed following surgery, which can agitate a dog. CBD is also more enjoyable for your dog because it's available in a wide variety of options, including delicious, all-natural treats.
Read Next: Cephalexin for dogs


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